In this paper we describe a potential new Explorer-class space mission, the AstroBiology Explorer (ABE), consisting of a relatively modest dedicated space observatory having a 50 cm aperture primary mirror which is passively cooled to T less than 65 K, resides in a low-background orbit (heliocentric orbit at 1 AU, Earth drift-away), and is equipped with a suite of three moderate order (m approx. 10) dispersive spectrographs equipped with first-order cross-dispersers in an "echellette" configuration and large format (1024xl024 pixel) near- and mid-IR detector arrays cooled by a modest amount of cryogen. Such a system would be capable of addressing outstanding problems in Astrochemistry and Astrophysics that are particularly relevant to Astrobiology and addressable via astronomical observation. The observational program of this mission would make fundamental scientific progress in each of the key areas of the cosmic history of molecular carbon, the distribution and chemistry of organic compounds in the diffuse and dense interstellar media, and the evolution of ices and organic matter in young planetary systems. ABE could make fundamental progress in all of these areas by conducting an approximately one year mission to obtain a coordinated set of infrared spectroscopic observations over the 2.5-20 micrometers spectral range at spectral resolutions of R greater than or equal to 1000 of approximately 1000 galaxies, stars, planetary nebulae, and young star planetary systems.